A strong development in the European flower business is the increasing importance of virtualisation. Virtualisation plays a major role in the reduction of transaction costs. Until a few years ago, the development of virtual flower trade was hampered by the perceived importance of visual appearance to determine product quality. Improvements in the provision of accurate supply information and reliability, however, have made virtualisation a major success.
The Dutch auction organisation FloraHolland plays an important role in the development of virtual trade. The auction has set up several services to develop and foster e-commerce: Remote Buying (in Dutch ‘Kopen Op Afstand’ or KOA), FloraHolland E-trade, PlantConnect.nl (formerly known as National Supply Databank or LAB). Remote Buying, introduced several years ago, enables traders to purchase products online using their PC. Traders are no longer required to be physically present in the auction room. It is also recognised as being used by the Dutch exporters to allow their larger clients to become more involved in the buying process. The KOA service has taken a flight in the last couple of years and currently accounts for 55% of the Aalsmeer auction’s turnover.
More information on ongoing developments can be found on FloraHolland’s E-services website.
E-trading at Germany’s leading horticultural marketing organisation, Landgard, is similarly becoming more and more important: http://www.landgard.de
Virtualisation in the flower sector is not restricted to the auction trading environment. An increasing number of European wholesalers also offer their customers the possibility to order products via remote buying systems: webshops. There are even growers, which offer their products to wholesalers and florists via websites, such as Growers Online.